Posts Tagged ‘liberty’
I am always blown away to hear of our country’s unfailing support of democracy around the world. Not only do we support democracy so vehemently, we are willing to topple elected governments in order to install a “glorious” democracy among other countries. While these goals sound noble, even while having disastrous consequences, it is important to point out that not even the United States was meant to be a democracy, at least not the kind people speak of today.
If you asked any American what kind of government we have today, what would be their answer? More than likely, democracy would be the first word from their lips. This may be somewhat true in today’s America, but sadly it was not the intent of the founding fathers. The word democracy is not even found in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution clearly affirms that every state in the union is guaranteed a Republican form of government. Benjamin Franklin described democracy as, “two wolves and a lamb deciding on what to have for lunch.” Alexander Hamilton said, “Real Liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship.” John Adams is quoted, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” Clearly the founding fathers had something against democracy, and rightfully so.
While some people can argue the point, the fact is that most see democracy as a majority rule type of government. In other words, mob rule; whatever the majority wants, must be right. Therefore if 70% of people feel that Christianity should be the only allowed form of religion in America, that would be considered right and placed into law. Same situation if the majority felt that no religion should be practiced. Obviously, just because the majority agrees, that doesn’t make it right.
A republic form of government has leaders elected by majority that are bound by a set of rules. Those rules cannot be breached, as it is against the law of the land. Therefore, there are some things the majority cannot touch, no matter how well intentioned they may believe they are. Some people could say that the type of democracy we have is also bound by laws. To which I would pose the question, “For how long?” We already have groups who want to ban guns. We have groups who want to institute universal healthcare. We have groups who would like to give the president Congress’s power of declaring war. We have groups what would like the government to illegally tap our phone lines. All of these are unconstitutional, and illegal in the United States of America. So how much longer will it be before people start believing that this country should be ruled by what the majority of people believe to be right? Winston Churchill said it best, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”
In his article, Republic? Democracy? What’s the Difference, Alexander Marriott claims there are two types of people who support democracy. The first are those who actually support a republic form of government, and are just too ignorant to understand the differences. The second are people who are in the majority and therefore will be able to vote themselves benefits. Our country should not support groups, no matter how large they are. Our country was founded on individual liberty, and each citizen’s individual freedom should be protected.
If somebody asked you what restrictions the 4th Amendment places on the federal government, could you tell them? I’m beginning to wonder if Americans understand the US Constitution actually places limits on government rather than the people. I would suggest that every American quickly acquaint themselves with the 4th Amendment, because this will be the next Constitutional law that is completely undermined and haphazardly breached. I say that as if it hasn’t already been violated. However, on a side note, I am always taken aback when I hear democrats and republicans quibble over which one is violating the Constitution, as if either of them actually care. Republicans completely ignore privacy rights and are the current party to start a war without a declaration. Democrats point to comma placement in the second amendment as proof that you shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun. Let’s face some facts up front, both parties are in the game for the party, not the citizen.
Having that said, both parties have been in cooperation to pass the first phase of a National ID implementation. Known quite intentionally as the Real ID Act, this law is but the beginning in the American emergence of what the Soviet Union called domestic passports. These were used by the Soviet Union to monitor the place of residence of its citizens, among other things. They are also currently used by China, yet another Communist country.
Real ID on the surface sounds innocent enough, which of course is the intention. Obviously lawmakers knew that Americans would not be happy with an immediate full-scale implementation of a federally managed identification system. Therefore, Uncle Sam decided to start small. Real ID actually establishes minimum standards for state issued drivers licenses. According to dhs.gov, the new cards will be needed for a citizen to board a federally regulated airplane, to access a federal facility or a nuclear power plant. It, of course, is also said to help fight terrorism. Basically, terrorism is the new Soviet Union. Leaders need enemies in order to force a voluntary surrender of liberty.
In understanding Real ID we must first take a look at the questions and answers page of dhs.gov. As the answer to the question of what a citizen will need a Real ID license for, the department of homeland security (DHS) says it will only be used for, “official purposes.” Who defines these official purposes? The DHS does, of course. Evidently, the DHS may also expand on these official purposes in the future to maximize the security benefits of the Real ID. Therefore the DHS, the federal government, has the right to expand on what a citizen cannot do unless they have a Real ID. Let’s also not become ignorant to the fact that your politicians also want biometrics included in Real ID, which is information such as fingerprints and radio frequency technology known as RFIDs.
The government’s first date set to have Real ID implemented was May 11, 2008. However, the DHS had to grant extensions to every single state, including Mississippi, because none were ready to implement the system on that specified date. This means that your constitutional state driver’s license will be invalid after the extension period runs out and the federal government will then implement the unconstitutional Real ID system. The DHS’s webpage says people born after December 1, 1964, will have to acquire a Real ID card by December 1, 2014.
Thankfully, several states are outright rejecting the Real ID system. Maine, Montana, New Hampshire and South Carolina did not even bother asking for an extension because they said they would not implement the program. Idaho and Alaska both filed for extensions yet recently passed legislation against its implementation.
All these ridiculous acts by the federal government are disguised as an effort to fight the war on terror: the Real ID, the torturing of human beings, illegal wiretapping as well as the unconstitutional war. Wouldn’t the defeat of terror involve a people who are not easily terrorized? It seems to me Americans are more scared than ever. We are so scared of being attacked that we are willing to give up the very thing that makes our country great: our civil liberties. For those of you that believe these terrorists hate us for our freedoms, let me ask you a question. When our government takes away those freedoms, have the terrorists won?
The United States of America has been said to be, “the only country in the history of the world founded on a good idea.” That idea was liberty and individual rights. The suggestion that people are born with certain rights that cannot be taken away from them by their government or any other human being is a popular one. It is the idea that shaped the Declaration of Independence, as well as our Constitution. The Declaration of Independence states that all people are endowed with, “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
First of all, I would like to talk about the difference between freedom and liberty; per the way I understand it. We like to think that we are given certain freedoms in this country that nobody else in the world are given. I believe this is the wrong way to look at human action. Human beings everywhere are born with the freedom to do anything they wish to do, within the realm of physical possibility. There is nothing stopping a human being from yelling fire in a crowded theatre, or not buckling up when they take a ride in their car. Nothing is stopping us from committing murder, or bashing somebody else’s mailbox in with a bat. If we truly wanted to do these things, we could. However, there are consequences to these freedoms that government places on human beings. Just because you could get the death sentence or life in prison doesn’t necessarily mean you are not free to kill another person. It simply means if you choose to exercise that freedom, you will be punished severely. Therefore, laws are almost like a leash placed on humans. The more laws that are put into place, the shorter the leash becomes.
Liberties are those freedoms that the government has alleged are your birthright, and therefore will not take away. This means that freedom is the ability of all humans to do as they please, rights are those freedoms that should not be taken away, and liberties are the rights that your government protects. Your freedom, or right, to practice a certain religion becomes a liberty when the government says no law shall restrict you from doing so. That is what we have (or at least, had) in the United States that make (or made) this country stand out above all others. Our rights encompass all of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Bill of Rights is perhaps the closest to perfectly stated restrictions on governmental power that has ever existed.
Having distinguished between freedoms and liberties, I would now like to discuss the function of our Constitution. First off, the Constitution does not give US citizens rights. We were born with those rights. We are endowed with them. The government cannot give you something you already have. However, the government can protect those rights by placing restrictions on themselves. That is what our Constitution does. It lays out restrictions and duties of the government, and states that any power not given to the government by the Constitution is left to the states and to the people. Therefore, the federal government cannot institute a law simply because the Constitution does not expressly forbid them from doing so. In other words, our leash should only be so short. However, the confusion over freedom and liberty is threatening the American way of life. So before you claim you have a right to something, such as healthcare, be sure that healthcare is actually a right protected by our constitution, because it could just be a restriction placed on government to protect your true rights.
“Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide on way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country–hold up your head. You have nothing to be ashamed of”
Ole Miss witnessed a political event this weekend that would make the founders of our nation proud. The stars and stripes of liberty that so many generations of Americans have fought and died to defend glistened in the warm Mississippi night, casting light upon the civilian duty to defend freedom against tyranny. America’s enduring soul pried open a window to the past, when the spirit of freedom pumped so fervently through the hearts of Americans that when Patrick Henry cried “Give me liberty or give me death!” he was merely representing the convictions of his fellow countrymen. This momentous occurrence was not the hosting of the Presidential Debate, but the audacious act of one young woman leaving her seat vacant at the most anticipated national spectacle her college campus had seen in generations.
It couldn’t have been an easy choice for eighteen year old Asma Al-Sherri, a political science and pre law freshman at Ole Miss. The 150 student tickets were highly contested, most of which were distributed through a lottery in which tickets had to be earned by attending debate-related events. Thousands of students made efforts to win the tickets, to experience an historical exhibition through their own eyes. Most of the lottery winners were overflowing with excitement when their names were called, wasting no time to call their parents and friends to tell them “I won! Look for me on TV!” Most of the ticket winners were thrilled with the prospect of seeing the next president on their own campus. But not Asma. Asma had already made her decision not to attend and never faltered when the opportunity came to light.
What could compel a young woman who defines herself as “extremely patriotic” and fascinated with politics to refuse such an opportunity? For Asma, patriotism required such a refusal. She does not believe that either candidate in Friday night’s debate represents the principles of what it means to be an American. These virtues have been abandoned by the two major parties today, she contends, and she would not honor the two politicians competing for the presidency with her presence. “I was thinking about the jeopardy of my civil liberties and how they have been stepped upon… Obama and McCain have both voted for legislation that has denied us certain civil liberties that are protected in the Constitution,” she writes in a Facebook note, “I refuse to have to worry about choosing the lesser of two evils.” Asma’s patriotism resides not in the glorified battle between corporate candidates, but in the freedoms authorized in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the documents that define America’s devotion to liberty. She spent the entire day with her student group the “UM Constitutionalists,” talking to community members about the breaches of their civil liberties and the afflictions of an interventionist foreign policy. “This is more important,” she told me with an extraordinary sense of humility.
Asma’s vacant seat is reminiscent of other actions of noncompliance in American history that we have come to know as the most courageous deeds of our past: the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the schemes of the slave abolitionists, and the nonviolent protests of the Civil Rights Movement to name a few. But as in the case of these great Americans, Asma was not concerned with her own historical legacy. She left her seat unoccupied “in the name of liberty;” for a cause she believes is in the best interest of the entire nation.
America would be a better place if we all stood up for our convictions as steadfastly as this courageous young patriot. Asma has bestowed a symbol of inspiration for freedom lovers everywhere, reminding us that our duty as citizens is to defend liberty against its enemies, especially during times when the enemy is concealed beneath the prevailing rhetoric of our political institutions.